Chinese EV startup NIO has made significant personnel cuts to its the autonomous driving department at its North American headquarters in San Jose, laying off another 141 employees who were made redundant by NIO’s partnership with Intel’s self-driving car company Mobileye.
Most of the laid-off workers were in the autonomous driving department, which has historically been one of the largest teams. NIO also eliminated the vehicle engineering and powertrain electrification teams in San Jose, letting the Shanghai team take over their responsibilities.
Under the Mobileye partnership, which was announced last month, Mobileye is set to design and provide NIO with a self-driving system building on the cars’ level of autonomy. NIO, in turn, will handle the automotive-grade engineering, integration and mass production of Mobileye’s system for consumer vehicle markets and robo-taxi services.
This is the third round of headcount reduction NIO has made to its US workforce this year, which has been primarily focused on R&D and engineering. The Tencent-backed startup laid off 70 workers and closed down their San Francisco office in May, and then cut another 62 jobs in September.
The company has seen significant financial challenges this year, mainly due to the expiration of Chinese government subsidies and a slowdown in the country’s economy, especially in the EV sector and auto market more broadly. This led to a nearly $900 million loss in the first half of 2019, while the company’s stock price has fallen more than 77% since March, closing at $2.27 per share on Tuesday.
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